MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — A source close to the Mountaineers football program confirmed Monday night that Pitt defensive back Cullen Christian will enroll at West Virginia this summer as a graduate transfer.
WVU becomes the third college stop for Christian, a 2010 four-star recruit out of Penn Hills (Pa.) High School who spent his freshman season at Michigan before returning to his hometown to play for the Panthers.
PantherDigest.com first reported Christian’s decision to attend West Virginia. A subsequent report from another recruiting website raised the possibility of Christian retaining two years of eligibility on appeal after a foot injury limited him to two games last season. But the source told MetroNews that Christian is likely to have only one season left.
Christian was rated the nation’s No. 8 cornerback by Rivals in 2010 and the 99th-best recruit overall. Though Christian has yet to live up to his prep billing, he could be a useful complement to West Virginia’s secondary, especially with new defensive coordinator Tony Gibson planning to deploy five defensive backs.
The player and coach have been tethered since 2010 when Gibson recruited Christian to Ann Arbor and coached him there for one season. After Michigan fired Rich Rodriguez and his staff, Gibson landed at Pitt in 2011, where Christian promptly followed and sat out that fall as a transfer.
“From the first time I met (Gibson), I knew he was a down to earth guy,” Christian told PantherDigest.com. “He relates to his players, he gets it. The main thing, he puts everybody on the same level. Whether you’re a senior or freshman, the guy who deserves to be on the field is on the field. At Michigan, he never laughed at me. He always kept it real. When I got to Michigan, everything was exactly what he said. Everything was good. I could pretty much trust him. That’s a unique characteristic to have of a coach.”
Though Christian reportedly considered Arizona State and Akron as transfer destinations, he settled on Morgantown after attended West Virginia’s spring game April 12 and meeting the coaching staff.
“Gibby is one of the main reasons I chose West Virginia, and one of the main reasons I came back to Pitt,” he told PantherDigest.com. “I’m happy I get the opportunity to play for him. They play the 3-3-5 defense, with five DBs. I’ll probably play the spur position.”
The 6-foot-1, 190-pound Christian continues a string of graduate transfers landing at WVU the past three seasons, following reciever Devon Brown from Wake Forest, running back Charles Sims from Houston and quarterback Clint Trickett of Florida State.